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Kris Gordon is what some folks call "the real deal" when it comes to Country Music. It's found in his West Texas Panhandle origins and his family musical legacy. You can hear it in his voice and his way with a song and witness it in his seasoned ability to get crowds dancing at every dancehall, club and honky-tonk he plays.
It's also heard throughout the 10 songs on Gordon's debut album, DON'T LET GO TONIGHT. Produced by Dean Miller, son of country legend Roger Miller, it strikes a canny balance between the best of the time-honored Nashville sound and the Texas Country spirit. Gordon sings of joys, sorrows, mysteries and passions on emotive numbers with a romantic tick or rocking kick. With the first single and video "The Upside of Down" leading the charge, Gordon delivers an assured and winning collection of rooted contemporary country that's right on time and on par to tackle the Texas scene and well beyond, to wow fans in a much wider audience.
Born in Plainview, Texas, and raised in Friona, Gordon comes by his love of country music honestly: growing up both listening to and playing country music. Son of a pedal steel guitarist, he recalls taking the stage at 8 years old. "My father taught me to play drums and my sister to play bass so he would have someone to practice with and share with us the love of Country Music," he says. "Then my mom and uncle came into the picture as we got older. We were like the country version of the Partridge Family." Reared on traditional country artists such as Ray Price, Merle Haggard and Ronnie Milsap, Gordon performed their music in his family band, Southern Sky, at VFW halls and Elks lodges, festivals, and other venues across West Texas and into New Mexico.
So it was only natural if not fated for Gordon to make music his life. "I've done it since an early age and pretty much thought that's how life really was," he says and chuckles.
While studying in the acclaimed country music program at South Plains College in Levelland, Texas, Gordon put together a group with some friends. They took the Southern Sky name and forged a busy regional circuit of premier nightclubs and fairs and rodeos, packing houses on their own and playing with Kenny Chesney, Gary Allan and the legendary Chris LeDoux, among others. After the Southern Sky singer moved on, Gordon ditched the sticks to sing and play guitar for the band. For its next show at the Grizzly Rose in Denver, at the time the CMA Club of the Year, "I came up front," he says, and he's been breaking hearts and guitar strings ever since.
The Southern Sky buzz reached Music City, and industry reps started courting Gordon. He moved to Nashville, where he honed his songwriting and forged creative bonds with fellow writers. One night at a gig on the Lower Broadway nightclub strip, he met Miller, the two hit it off and started writing songs together, and Miller ultimately led Gordon into the studio to cut DON'T LET GO TONIGHT.
Gordon headed back to Texas, basing himself in the Austin area. He put together a band and started touring again. "To me touring is the most important aspect of getting your music out there and meeting true friends and fans," he says. "There is nothing better than looking out from the stage and seeing people with smiles on their faces jamming out to my music and singing along." As far as the industry types impressed with his talents, "I just want to make my music and get it to my fans," he says. If a label comes along and presents an opportunity to broaden my horizons, great. But Texas is my home; these are my people."
He tapped back into his ever-growing fan base and is playing regional venues, taking a positive approach as reflected by the spirit in "The Upside of Down."
That he entertains and engages listeners with "songs that are down-to-earth and just about everyday life ... It's all about the best songs for me," is true. It's also true that he records and delivers them live with verve, a bit of a bad-ass attitude and the sure hand of a musical artist who is already a veteran, even at his young age. That it's what he's been doing most all his life and is destined to keep doing, well, dang right.